Saturday, April 1, 2017

January in Tokyo: A New Year in Japan, Octopoulpe Returns, Meeting Jens, and Grindcore Communication

And again, Happy New Year! Woo! Back in Japan! 
It's, it's April Fool's Day, Morty! Just, you know, just try to enjoy it! It's a good day for something just a little but fucky and anachronistic. Random pictures, back in Japan, yeah! 
Lots of interesting things going on, not always fitting into convenient weekend posts, you know how it is (If you're reading this in Rick's voice you're doing it right). 

Basically I'm just gonna take you through some of the cool stuff I stop to look at and poke and maybe buy or eat on an average weekday, because I'm trying to enjoy everything for all it's worth as long as I'm still here. Alright, let's get started!

Random display in Roppongi near the main intersection that I passed on my way back from Gallery Lab AxiomI like that even though it's really cool and clearly cost a lot Roppongi gets so sloppy and shitty at night that it's damaged and one of the giant origami flowers fell off lol.

After we came back from Germany I did what you're supposed to do and visited our local shrine, the big one right outside the station. It's called 浅間神社 and the "company" (not sure..) that owns it says a shrine was originally established here in 931, but it's not official.

It's the Year of the Cock, which I'm assuming is a direct reference to the farcical 
Trump Administration in its entirety.

Some Juicy Fatz slaps on a Coca Cola vending machine I'd never noticed before

I'm glad I got a picture of this eyesore of a derelict parking structure before they tore it down.
Right after they blocked it off heavily and posted completely unintimidating handwritten signs threatening a $300 fine for trespassing these happened haha. 
Who does this cat-hatted design?! They're everywhere in our neighbourhood and there's a really big one in Koenji too.

Some traditional sweets and a really pretty laser-cut greeting card I'm keeping to frame

Cute ridiculous 7-11 cakes, now in snowman and friendly strawberry demon flavours.

Had to stop and snap a pic of these adorable decorations - that I dedicated a post to after coming back last time - outside a restaurant on my way to my Friday morning class, which is at a toy company near the super famous Asakusa shrine, so there are always hordes of Chinese tourists and confused Caucasian ones around, especially during cherry blossom season. 
Actually, well, this is true of work for me in general. The only companies that can afford to arrange custom, high-quality business English training have a lot of money, so I work in office towers connected to and overlooking Tokyo Station and Roppongi Station as well. Thank you for gathering around to hear about my super first-world problem.

Spotted at said toy company while waiting for the elevator.
Pretty sure I have a gotcha from this series that I got in Osaka in 2014.
It's a very similar hamster, but he's in a little sandwich. ・w・

Thanks for leaving up this cool New Years' chalk art, Anytime Fitness, 
because it took me a while to get back to the gym what with the tonsilitis 
and jetlag and everything and man did I feel like a scumbag! But this helped.

Walked right into an awkward stray cat fight in the alley down from our 
apartment on my way to work.. #ohexcuseme

Antique glass slides at 神保著いちのいち in Tokyo station, my favourite store, 
which I often kill time at...

...on my way to my Thursday afternoon class, also aforementioned.
This is the view from the window; the white trains are shinkansen.

Toward the end of January we had a chance to meet Jorge's long-time German partner, Jens, because he was visiting and holding an exhibition right in the lobby of Hannes' building, of all places. I think the German government and the Goethe Institute own it or something, and they rent out the space in a cost-sharing way that's apparently pretty awkward to book, but that gives some moderately important people a chance to view artwork like this.

I brought cup lattes and 生チョコまん (little steamed chocolate buns with ganache inside) for them, because I knew they had been sitting there all day, and I would post the picture Jorge took of the three of us, but I look so chunky. Losing the weight I spent half of last year putting on with the medication I was taking has been going so terribly slowly. But, you should really check out the exhibition on Jens' site as well as his others!

He's a painter who focuses quite specifically on trees and light, the way light hits trees. This exhibition was pretty cumbersome for him because of the size of many of the pieces - they were a pain in the ass to check, get through the airports, and carry on trains - but conceptually it was really cool and I'm glad he came. The paper is high-quality clothlike cellulose, and on the product of the youthful vitality of these trees, Jens used their ashes to reproduce their shadows and textures.

In a similarly interesting and intelligent pairing, Llaura Sünner uses felt of various fibres and densities to create rusted tools of deforestation that are pleasantly flimsy.

It was hard to get a decent picture of everything with my phone, but the chainsaw was especially impressive. Jens showed me that it even had one of those pull handles to start it before sheepishly sticking it back in. He's so damn nice.

Obviously I took one of every postcard for the postcard collection I really
 shouldn't have started four years ago.

Hannes and I walked to a popular Irish pub called Hobgoblin that he had been wanting to show me afterward, originally thinking that Jorge and Jens would come with us, but between the jetlag and their plans with other friends it was not meant to be.

French fries with malt vinegar, so glorious

And a vegan wrap that I didn't know also came with fries but that I did know was in a tortilla and obviously not gluten-free but whatever! I had hardly any hours that week and just dealt with it, since I was hungry and we were already there.

Jens wasn't the only interesting European visitor of the month, ohhh no.


Octopoulpe retuuuuuuurns!

Power to bald people!

Seriously, this was such a good show, and it was free at Ruby Room. We couldn't make it to any of the others during the week, but I bought a kickass 2017 Tour shirt.

J.P.'s interactive video set has gotten.. well, it's amazingly professional and high-quality.
I was standing, dumbfounded and amazed and massively entertained, next to Audrey who I had finally just met, and didn't manage to video this bit, but you could select players just like in a game. J.P. said he's a programmer so it takes time but isn't difficult for him to make these things.
He invited someone up to do it and she chose a Korean chick guitarist, though I don't know who it was. Maybe someone from Billy Carter or something? Anyway, it was amazing. We really hope he gets full-blown famous and won't be even a little bit surprised if he does. We also want to help him with the German legs of any upcoming European tours that might happen.

Audrey said she's never laughed so much at a show and was really happy that
I introduced her to our masked hero.

Oh no, Klaus Legal cut his zouzou..!
(refer to video of basically entire set below)

Klaus Legal seemed like a nice guy, and if he ever sees this I hope he doesn't take offense, but he seriously reminds me of 1999 - 2002. He looks like he came straight from that era, just in general, and the screechy industrial noise he does reminds me of my early teens.

Except he also flashes this spotlight in your eyes intermittently! Haha! Ow!

lol thanks, nice job

Ah okay, that's better. It was a lot of people for a Thursday show, because it was free 
and centrally-located! I was so glad to finally get a chance to talk to Audrey and have no idea how we hadn't up until this point; we have so much in common.

Here's both Klaus Legal and Guevnna, who, incidentally, are going on 
a European tour and stopping in Rostock to kick it off, of all places. 
Makiko says they have a really good booking agent.

Ah but wait, there was also another show that weekend, Grindcore Communication at Moonstep! Pretty sure I was still a little bit drunk even at lunchtime on Friday, but we were all good by the time Fuck on the Beach and Disgunder shredded everyone's faces right off their faces that weekend.

Was this wrestling collection on the bar always this big?

Anna is such a great performer. I talked to her about Kaala and intend to try to write something about her and her band before Hannes and I leave. She'd never heard of the site/blog and thought it seemed really convenient. Even though I hadn't considered trying to talk to her before it happened because my Japanese is no good and her English is very minimal, she's so nice, and I honestly didn't realise how very petite she is until I was right next to her. Her stage presence is much bigger than she is.

Finally, she and their guitarist Shinji made it clear that they were going to use this aisle of space! When they've gone back and forth at Earthdom it's just been kind of confusing.

Bathroom slaps are yas

Then, finally, it was time for Sete Star Sept, who I'd been pretty excited to see because
I had also wanted to talk to Kae here about an interview and an article, but we got distracted
yet again by interesting conversation (it always goes like that at Moonstep, it's a cool 
artsy place; this time we met the astonishingly drunk and spitty owner of this gallery in Nakameguro) and unfortunately missed most of their set. The bar is upstairs and the first floor venue is soundproof, so it's hard to tell when someone's started playing. Anyway, maybe I can catch her again before we peace out of here forever, since they play a lot of shows.

It was pretty great the way they (they're just a duo) crumpled to the ground at the end

Third show video in one post, hold onto your butts

Gats! I took Hannes to his exhibition at Takashi Murakami's various mini galleries

There were a lot of other cool slaps on the long walk back to the station, too

Who's TMG? This LSD one is laser- or die-cut and high quality.

-tries to be sinister, isn't-
Just giving you shit Hannes lol this is obviously you hating that I'm taking a picture at all

He didn't want to touch that Juicy Fatz sticker on this box because it was dirty..?!

But then he pretended that he'd shat himself?
Who's really the dirty one here, huh?!

Aaand then we took the bus back home. Kind of.
I took the closest bus we could get and then we had to take a taxi, but it was very nearby.
(Later: "Pffft, yeah right, it wasn't nearby. It was 10 minutes on the bus and another 10 in the taxi." "No it wasn't, it was like.. Okay, well, maybe. But we got home.")

I finished Dune in January. It was amazing. 

Also there's a really nice American guy who works at Frijoles (the fast-casual Mexican place that "makes the basic white girl in all of us so happy") at Roppongi Hills and he gives you like, an actual decent portion of food that almost makes the price worth it. This black bean bowl is both gluten-free and vegan since I skipped the cheese. But oh man, did he make up for it with extra guac. What a hero.

I've been reading so many books because so many of my waking hours in Japan have been spent on trains, and I'm actually really glad for that, because it's hard to imagine how I've missed some of these classics. Also how did Jodorowsky's Dune never get made even though he had Mœbius, Salvador Dalí, Mick Jagger, and Orson Welles on board?!

Jesus Fucking Christ.

It is actually and literally the greatest sci fi and/or fantasy film ever made even though it never was. What an amazing book, too.

After Frijoles I headed to the Taka Ishii gallery on the third floor of complex665 next door, 
which is free of course. There was a surrealist photography exhibition going on.

And this installation really blew me away. ShugoArts is my favourite of the galleries housed in this unassuming backalley building; the first half of it is this perfectly 2001: A Space Odyssey-esque room that's brilliantly stark white. It makes for a fantastic effect, and I don't just mean the brightness. These carved totems are by Shigeo Toya, by the way.

These paintings are by a Jewish-Italian-Dutch Brazilian artist named Varda Caivano who lives and works in London. The only thing I liked about her small-scale, amateurish, abstract, expressionist finger paintings was that they perfectly complimented the unfinished concrete floor of the Tomio Koyama gallery. I respect her creativity and am sure she is a lovely and interesting person, but alas, she is a perfect example of how crucial it is to know exactly the right people of means and with connections.

And finally, since that was a pretty deep burn, let me end at last on a positive and encouraging note: a piece Hannes and Akim authored about the demographic crisis Japan is currently facing and doing nothing effective to manage or curtail was published in International Reports, though it was translated for publication by a third party none-too-well; Hannes and I could have done a much more effective job on our own.
Regardless, it is something that quite a lot of powerful people in Germany and elsewhere have seen, and is a real achievement! 
Even if he's not happy at his job, I'm really proud of him.

More of January and February 2017 are coming up shortly!

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